Where I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, we occasionally had power outages from storms. If it was nighttime when the power went out, we had no lights in a shadowy house. It was dark, and it felt dark, especially when you’re a kid with a big imagination.
It was dark and scary, that is, until Mom or Dad started lighting the kerosene lamps. These lamps brought instant illumination to a frightening house. The lamps were reassuring and helped us find our way until the power returned. Those lamps gave us hope and got us through many storms. We needed that light.
Hope is like that. Hope illuminates even the darkest and stormiest of nights for us. Whether it’s a dark season of the soul or a storm that clouds your life, hope can light the way through your blackest nights. Hope says, “Maybe it’s all going to be okay after all,” when everything else says it’s over.
This is why Christians celebrate “hope” on the first Sunday of Advent. The theme kicks off a meaningful Christmas season because it reminds us that the birth of Christ means hope has arrived for us all.
God sent hope in the form of His own Son, Jesus Christ. He came to light up every room in our house.
Isaiah prophesied of the Light to come…
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:1–2
Jesus fulfilled that prophecy…
And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:13–16
Isaiah may not have known God’s timeline, but he trusted God to be on time. God gave him hope through this prophecy. And that prophecy gave all of Israel hope as they awaited its fulfillment. Hope allows for godly waiting.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Jesus is still the Light of the world Who promises to push back darkness. He’s always done it, and He always will. Are you willing to wait on Him, to put your hope in Him, even when your imagination says it’s time to panic?
By habit, we all know how to wait incorrectly and awkwardly. When we worry, fret, and stress out…we let our hope slip. Don’t give up on Jesus and what He’s promised, even when all you feel is darkness. Hope is godly waiting. You don’t have to see it all right now— just keep the Light close by.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:21–26
Hope is found all through the Biblical story of Christ’s birth:
- Zechariah was given hope from an angel (Luke 1:11-20)
- Joseph was given hope by an angel (Matthew 1:20-21)
- Mary was given hope by Gabriel the archangel (Luke 1:28-37)
- Shepherds were given hope by an angelic birth announcement (Luke 2:8-14)
- Wise men from the east were given hope through a star (Matthew 2:1-2)
- Anna and Simeon were given hope through prophecy (Luke 2:25-38)
Hope went against all odds:
- Zachariah and Elizabeth were too old to have children (Luke 1:18)
- Mary was a virgin (Luke 1:27)
- Joseph wasn’t married to Mary yet (Matthew 1:18)
- Shepherds were too poor and too common
- The wise men were too wealthy and too far away
- Simeon and Anna were waiting too long (Luke 1:25-26)
Look at the many ways God brought hope to everyone involved. God wants you to embrace hope and look forward to life, not begrudge it. God created you with a need for something to look forward to. But even more importantly, you need Someone to give you eternal hope, and His name is Jesus.
In the Nativity, God’s hope was not based on how easy, probable, or popular things were. The hope you receive in Christ will outlast all the naysayers, haters, and doubters. Jesus came in dark times, and one day, He will return in dark times – at just the right time. Our job is to maintain our hope.
Right now, He’s saying to you, “It’s all going to be okay after all.” Go ahead and trust Him. You can let go of many things as we close this year out, but don’t let go of hope – that is something you need to keep.